Newest Review: ... book in the Melanie Travis series. Traditionally it takes me a while to get to know and understand a new author work, but on this occasion... more
The Pampered Pooch Centre
Doggie Day Care Murder - Laurien Berenson
Member Name: CPTDANIELS
Doggie Day Care Murder - Laurien Berenson
Advantages: Great amateur sleuth
Disadvantages: Slow start
Melanie Travis believes her crime solving days are over. She has recently given birth to her second child Kevin and is happy in her family life with a husband Sam and five standard Poodles to keep her busy. Added to this her eldest son Davey is being coached by her Aunt Peg to be a junior showman with one of their animals.
However her good friend Alice is preparing to return to work after having a family and asks her to check out the Pine Ridge Canine Care Centre. As her dog will need looking after during her working hours and she doesn't want to leave him at home alone for so long. Melanie is impressed by the facilities and the concept behind the place of keeping the dogs happy. While she is there she meets Steve Pine one of the owners an attractive man who sold the facilities and ideals of the place to her with his relaxed but caring attitude towards the animals.
She advises Aunt Peg about the place who knows a thing or two about dog handling and ownership too. Peg asks her a few questions that Melanie did not consider so she decides to go back this time with Alice so she can make her final decision on the place. However while they are waiting to see Steve Pine again he is discovered dead in his office by his sister and fellow owner Candy. He has been shot and very quickly Alice volunteers Mel's skills to try and find out who killed this seemingly popular man.
==My thoughts of this novel:==
For me this was a good piece of amateur crime fiction. It was in truth quite a light read in the sense it did not involve many suspects and their where not multiple twists and turns in the plot. I think the main thing I liked about this book was the concept behind it i.e. murder at a establishment that looks after dogs. I suppose that is because I love dogs and I found the way the author described their individual traits very enjoyable and quite often amusing.
This is the first novel I have read that has been written by Laurien Berenson although it is the 15th book in the Melanie Travis series. Traditionally it takes me a while to get to know and understand a new author work, but on this occasion I found I quickly got into the story and really enjoyed her relaxed style of writing that I felt didn't tax me as the reader too much. It is a surprise I took to this book also because I usually struggle with American writers but I am glad to say that was not an issue on this occasion as I really enjoyed what I read and learning about this unusual facility.
To be honest I have no idea why I purchased this book from the Charity Shop. I think it was the price it was on sale for at just 50p. Admittedly I had read several 500 pages plus thrillers lately and I was looking for something different and also something a bit lighter that I could complete in a few days. This seemed to fit the bill so I checked out the praise for the author on the reverse of the book and despite not knowing any of the contributors they all were full of praise for her work. Well to be honest if they were negative things they would not be published here!!
So I checked out the summary of the story on the inside cover of the book. This was very impressive. It was four good paragraphs long and full of interesting detail about the books star Melanie Travis and the Pine Ridge Canine Care Centre. It really drew me into the story and had me intrigued. Maybe in hindsight it gave a little too much about what was going to happen away especially in the way it brought up some of the suspects to the crime.
But when I started reading the story in earnest, initially I thought it was a little bit slow. As the author spent quite a while explaining about Melanie's family life and background. This for a new reader like myself was great I'm just not sure had I read all the previous stories that I would have found this as useful and skipped it. To be honest it was taken by surprise to find this was the 15th in the series as it seemed new and fresh with great background detail on the books star sleuth.
Although I always enjoyed what I read particularly when the murder had been committed. That is not because I particularly like people being killed it just meant I could act like the sleuth try and work out who killed him and why. I found Melenie's style of investigating to be honest and understandable as she needed to balance this with her very busy home life as well. And I felt these two concepts where well balanced and that for me brought the character to life and made it all seem realistic.
Probably because I read so many crime stories I usually have a good idea of who the guilty party is. But I am glad to say in this one I did not have a clue. Yes there where several suspects but because of clever writing none of their motives had me completely convinced they where the guilty party until towards the end. Then Melanie found the clue that made the crime that had been committed seem right with the correct solution to it.
I found the pace of the story increased as the story unfolded. The only thing that surprised me was how little the Police seemed to be doing to find out the murderer. And how little they seemed to be involved in the story. Maybe with Public Sector cutbacks this is the new big idea. Although in truth that seemed to help the development of the story and in particular to give Melanie a free rain to try and find the solution herself.
The conclusion was very exciting and I found because it was so well written that I was literally on the edge of my seat. For me it was a fitting ending to what was a very good story. Yes you could argue that this was not the deepest most complex story ever, but it was still good, effective and well worth reading. For me this would be ideal for a holiday read a good story that you can pick up when the mood suits you but will not stress you out or have to think to deeply about.
The books lead (Sorry!!) character is Melanie Travis and the story is written from her viewpoint. I found her is really good character and a real dog lover so I found her easy to like and relate to. I really like the way she balanced all her commitments and the author displayed how tough it was for her admirably. I particularly liked the fact she was not perfect and even as a sleuth she would miss things or even forget to ask important questions.
Although I felt she was supported by some wonderful support characters. These came from both her own family and the suspects from the Pine Ridge Canine Centre. I thought the author had researched them all well and as a result they where full of personality and interesting, so that I wanted to know more about them.
I thought the books length was exactly right to tell an absorbing story. Yes it could have been expanded and extra twists in turns added, but I thought the quality of the detail was enough. With regular chapters breaking up the well thought and described scenes, there was never an opportunity to lose interest in what you where reading.
I think I will definitely be looking to read other stories in this series as I thought this one was very good. Maybe next time I might buy the first in the series rather than the latest one!! But I am glad to say that made no difference to my enjoyment of it. And now I have a taste for it I'm sure I will read another one soon.
This was for me a very good piece of fiction. And while it was not the most complicated story I have read, it was always interesting, well written and had me wanting to find the solution to it. I particularly enjoyed the story involving dogs so much and the way the author displayed a real knowledge of their very different personalities and some humorous situations.
Price: 6.29 New at Amazon
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Year first published: 2008
About the author: www.laurienberenson.com
Thanks for reading my review
Merry Christmas everyone!!
© CPT Daniels December 2011
Summary: Not a Dog's Dinner!!